I’m not sure when the term “multi-tasking” came into vogue. It sounds so professional and productive.
It is what my mother would have called “doing too many things at once.” And I expect she was right.
Being a member of the baby boom generation, my multi-tasking capabilities are limited. I can watch the Bears on Sunday afternoon while pursuing the Sunday Tribune. Or…I can watch the Bears while listening to my wife comment on the Sunday Tribune. But I can’t do all three at once. (To be honest, my wife doesn’t think I can do any two at once.)
My son, a member of Generation X, has advanced multi-tasking capabilities. He can talk to his girlfriend in Ireland on Skype, play an online game with a friend in Australia, watch the Bears, read the Tribune online, monitor the English Premier League by computer and eat pizza – all at the same time.
Frankly, even if my son and I can do several things at once, I suspect that we can’t do them WELL.
The array of new media innovations make multi-tasking ever easier. No…it makes multi-tasking ever more tempting. You can view a video screen almost everywhere: grocery lines, while pumping gas, in elevators, in bathroom stalls, on your phone, and in trains, planes and automobiles.
In fact, it is getting rather difficult to do just one thing at a time – which was how my mother always thought people ought to approach life. She thought people ought to pay attention to what they are doing at any particular moment. How passé by today’s standards. Imagine being anywhere other than the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve and not being bombarded with music and video images.
I see people talking on a cell phone while driving a car full of kids who are eating hamburgers and flinging fries about the vehicle.
Hoards of people flock o sports bars where they can partly pay attention to a dozen different televisions at once.
Last weekend I saw a guy riding his bicycle while drinking a cup of coffee and leading his dog on a leash. And another guy (I’m not kidding) was riding his bike, talking on a cell phone and had his pet parrot on his shoulder. These guys were multi-tasking slackers – how about adding a little text-messaging?
There must be a limit to this and I don’t be the one to push the envelope. I’m still trying to perfect the Bears and the Sunday paper.
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